Warriors’ striker Cuthbert Malajila has said national pride and hunger for success will spur the senior national team on in their latest bid to make it to the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
The Ian Gorowa-coached side begins the long journey with a preliminary round tie against Tanzania, with the first leg set for Dar-es-Salaam on Sunday.
If the Warriors eliminate Tanzania they face either Mozambique or South Sudan for a berth in the Groups stages where they face Zambia, Cape Verde and Niger for two spots to the finals in Morocco.
On the eve of the team’s departure Sundowns striker Malajila, who unlike the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Willard Katsande and striker Kingston Nkatha heeded Gorowa’s call, is hoping his experience can be combined well with the hunger and determination of the locally-based players who impressively reached the semifinals of the Chan tournament earlier this year.
From that class of players, strikers Tendai Ndoro and Simba Sithole have since moved to South Africa and Malajila could partner Ndoro in Tanzania.
“The guys who played at Chan are hard working; they have the hunger and you can see at training they have a lot of determination and I feel honoured to be part of this group and I know I also have to work hard,” said Malajila.
“I think with these players the team can go far, they are young, talented and always eager to learn. In my opinion we can reach the finals in Morocco with this group of players, but we have to work hard, it’s not going to be easy. We have had these so-called easy draws before and failed.”
Malajila, goalkeeper Washington Arubi, Ndoro and Sithole form the group that travelled from South Africa.
Sithole suffered an injury on the first day of training and will not be traveling to Tanzania today.
With some of the foreign-based players unavailable Gorowa will have to bank on players that did duty at the Chan tournament.
Star of the show Kuda Mahachi is expected steer the Warriors to a result in Tanzania and make the job easier for the team in the second leg at home.
Gorowa said this week the Tanzania tie would be tough but the Warriors have an edge since they play the second leg at home.
“We have played Tanzania before and I got information about them from the Malawi coach after their international friendly, said Gorowa.
“They are quite a good team and I think this match will be very tough but we have a plan and hopefully we can get the desired result.”
Gorowa added that the nation is paying for past failures thus they have to engage in preliminary round matches.
Since Independence in 1980 Zimbabwe has only qualified for the Afcon finals in 2004 and 2006.
“These preliminary round matches are tricky but we are paying for our failure in the past. If we were in the top 20 on the continent we would not have to play these matches, we will try to correct that for the future.
“We have the confidence that we will do well this weekend and I have confidence that we can qualify for the finals. We have a talented group of players who want and can succeed.”